March 25, 2012
Revealed: Umberto Guarracino in Il Mostro di Frankenstein (1920), the last silent Frankenstein film. Movie strongman Guarracino made a formidable-looking, bullet-headed Monster. The actor went on to play another artificial man, “the product of the secret workshop”, in Die Insel der Verschollenen (1921), a German-made adaptation of H.G.Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau.
The Mostro photo surfaced on the Italian site Sempre in penumbra, devoted to silent films and dedicated in its search for new information on the lost Frankenstein of 1920.
Of the silent movie Frankensteins, Il Mostro has proven the most elusive. Posters for showings in 1922 and 1926, as well as a Belgian program book, have surfaced (posted here and here), otherwise precious little is known about the film. The Penumbra site recently uncovered multilingual ads for an August 1922 screening in Port Said, Egypt. Also on the bill was a Snub Pollard comedy short from 1920, Call a Taxi.
Producer Luciano Albertini, who played the scientist, gets all the attention: “Original drama in 4 parts” the copy reads, “interpreted by SAMSON otherwise known as Luciano Albertini, the formidable artist of world fame.”
Albertini (1882-1945) was a former circus performer and trapezist who parlayed his athletics and gentlemanly good looks into a career as stunt-performing matinee idol and one of Italy’s biggest silent stars. He also made films in Russia and Germany, with a short and uneventful stint in Hollywood, circa 1924. His most famous role, referenced on one of the Egyptian posters for Il Mostro, was in The Bridge of Sighs, a 1921 costume drama.
Here, with thanks to collector George Chastain, is a very rare, autographed postcard of Albertini.
By all appearances, Il Mostro di Frankenstein circulated widely, and was still being shown six years after it was made. Research continues — and we’ll be keeping an eye on the superlative Penumbra site — as slowly, piece-by-piece, information surfaces and the Mostro puzzle comes together.
NEXT UP: Silent Movie Frankenstein Week is extended a few days as we look at all those OTHER Silent Frankenstein films (!?!!).
A detailed biography of Luciano Albertini on Film Star Postcards.
Il Mostro di Frankenstein as covered here, on Frankensteinia.